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National Lottery windfall to connect and harness the lived experience of people across the UK

Thanks to National Lottery players, people with lived experience of issues such as homelessness, long-term unemployment and histories of offending and addiction will be supported to get their lives back on track by helping others. This is thanks to a £3.6million grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, to St Giles Trust.

The award will enable St Giles Trust to establish a national network of seven Peer Hubs over the next four years with the potential to help 6,000 people (see editor’s notes). The Hubs will offer people with first-hand experience of disadvantage the opportunity to become professionally qualified advice workers supporting others.

The Peer Hub network is based on an existing approach used by St Giles Trust whereby people who have experienced difficulties in life are able to gain skills, experience and qualifications through the Peer Advisor Programme (see editor’s notes). Based on the principle that people with ‘lived experience’ of overcoming adversity are best placed to help others to do the same, the programme gives them the responsibility to bring positive social change

The grant will support the aim of transforming the way in which services to the most socially excluded are delivered by highlighting the impact of well trained, motivated staff who have lived experience of social exclusion themselves.

It builds on the successful work of three existing well-established Peer Hubs in Leeds, London and Cardiff – also supported by The National Lottery Community Fund (see editor’s notes). The Hubs work with local partner agencies – typically ones addressing issues such as homelessness, addiction and other social needs – who benefit from St Giles Trust Peer Advisors undertaking work placements with them as part of their training.

The award will develop further Peer Hubs in North Wales, Norfolk, the Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland. St Giles Trust’s Peer Advisor Programme will be applied and tailored to work in local communities to offer disadvantaged people training and support to become Peer Advisors, giving something back whilst improving their skills and employment prospects.

Rob Owen OBE, Chief Executive of St Giles Trust, said:

“This award made possible by National Lottery players presents a real opportunity for disadvantaged communities and will impact many lives across the UK. People who face real barriers in overcoming challenges and stereotypes will be given the tools and training to create positive change. This is at a time when public services are being cut to the bone and many of the most vulnerable are falling through the gaps. The Peer Hubs offer a smart, grassroots way of supporting people and communities and changing the way that services are delivered.

He continued:

“National Lottery players are already supporting our existing work which has transformed the lives of thousands. This latest grant will create a true legacy building on its existing success.”

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players more people with real-life experience of social issues will use their understanding to support others in similar situations. Through their Peer Hub networks, St Giles Trust is not only helping people become qualified advice workers, but are also supporting communities across the UK to thrive.”